Tiger Mask IV

Last updated
Tiger Mask IV
Tiger Mask IV 2015.JPG
Tiger Mask in August 2015
Birth nameYoshihiro Yamazaki [1]
Born (1970-10-20) October 20, 1970 (age 49) [1]
Urayasu, Chiba
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s) Tiger Mask [2]
Billed height1.73 m (5 ft 8 in) [2]
Billed weight87 kg (192 lb) [2]
Trained by Satoru Sayama [2] [3]
The Great Sasuke [1]
DebutJuly 15, 1995 [2]

Yoshihiro Yamazaki (山崎 佳宏, Yamazaki Yoshihiro, born October 20, 1970) [1] is a Japanese professional wrestler, best known for being the fourth man to portray Tiger Mask (タイガーマスク, Taigā Masuku). He currently works for New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW). Having competed as Tiger Mask since 1995, he is the longest tenured incarnation of the character.

Contents

Career

The young Yamazaki was originally trained by the original Tiger Mask (Satoru Sayama) and The Great Sasuke and unlike the second and third Tiger Masks, Yamazaki has been endorsed by Sayama himself. He also traveled to Mexico where he trained in lucha libre . [4]

Michinoku Pro Wrestling (1995–2001)

He made his professional wrestling debut in 1995 for Michinoku Pro Wrestling (Michinoku Pro/MPW) and became the fourth Tiger Mask, succeeding Koji Kanemoto. While working for Michinoku Pro Tiger Mask won the "APEX OF TRIANGLE" Six Man Tag Team Championship with his trainer the Great Sasuke and Gran Hamada. Just over a year into his wrestling career Tiger Mask won the UWA World Middleweight Championship and held it for 3 months before being forced to vacate the title due to an injury. [5] After returning from his injury Tiger Mask spent a couple of years working mid card and lower main event matches until he was finally given another run with a singles title when he won a tournament to crown a new British Commonwealth Jr. Heavyweight Champion in London, England. Despite it being called "British Commonwealth", the title was mainly promoted in Japan. Tiger Mask would later vacate the title due to an injury but was given a second reign with the title in 2000 that would last exactly one year shortly before Tiger Mask left Michinoku Pro. [6]

After leaving M-Pro, Yamazaki trained with mixed martial artist and fellow Sayama trainee Enson Inoue. Management of Pride Fighting Championships proposed him to compete in mixed martial arts with his mask on, but he declined after receiving a better offer to wrestle for New Japan Pro Wrestling. The same year, there was a suggestion of making Guy Mezger fight at Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye replacing Yamazaki under the Mask, but he similarly refused. [7]

New Japan Pro Wrestling (2002–present)

Tiger Mask made his NJPW debut on January 20, 2002, and at first wrestled as a Michinoku Pro star and not a full-time worker. In December 2002, he officially joined NJPW, and quickly rose in the contenders ranks in the Junior Heavyweight division. On April 23, 2003, Tiger Mask was booked to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship from then champion Koji Kanemoto. [8] Tiger Mask's first IWGP reign came to an end in December 2003, when he had to vacate the title due to an injury. [9] Tiger Mask returned with renewed strength and won the 2004 Best of the Super Juniors tournament where he beat the then IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion Heat in the semi finals and Koji Kanemoto in the finals to win the annual tournament. [3] It wouldn't be until 2005 that Tiger Mask was able to recreate his semi final victory to defeat Heat for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title. [9] Tiger Mask also won the 2005 Best of the Super Juniors making him the first and to date only wrestler to win the tournament two years in a row. In October 2005 Tiger Mask lost the title to the fourth incarnation of the Black Tiger gimmick (Rocky Romero). [9] Tiger Mask defeated Black Tiger in a rematch on February 19, 2006, in a match where Black Tiger put both the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship and the NWA World Junior Heavyweight Championship on the line, making Tiger Mask a double champion. [9] [10] Tiger Mask's reign as IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion ended on May 3, 2006, by the man he won the title from the first time, Koji Kanemoto. [9] the NWA World Junior Heavyweight title would reside around Tiger Mask's waist for over a year until he lost it to Mike Quackenbush on a National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) sanctioned show in Portage, Indiana. [10]

Tiger Mask in September 2013. Tiger Mask VI 2013.JPG
Tiger Mask in September 2013.

When New Japan decided to create several "Brands", Tiger Mask was appointed as an 'ace' of Wrestle Land alongside Hiroshi Tanahashi but ended up wrestling 2 matches under the WRESTLE LAND Brand. In July 2008, Tiger Mask defeated Prince Devitt in a tournament final to become a four-time IWGP World Jr. Heavyweight champion. On the "Circuit 2008 New Japan Generation" tour Low Ki ended Tiger Mask's reign. On January 4, 2009, during NJPW's annual Tokyo Dome show Wrestle Kingdom III, he regained the title and became only the third five-time IWGP World Junior Heavyweight champion in the title's history. [9] Tiger Mask made his first successful title defense Jushin Thunder Liger after which he was presented with a third-generation IWGP Junior Heavyweight championship belt. While being presented with the belt he was attacked by new version of Black Tiger, the fifth version of his storyline arch enemy. After defeating and unmasking the fourth Black Tiger (Rocky Romero) at Resolution '09 in a title vs. mask match, the fifth Black Tiger once again attacked Tiger Mask, gave him a Death Valley driver and then unmasked him. [11] On June 20, 2009, at Dominion 6.20, Tiger Mask defeated Black Tiger V in a mask vs. mask match. Afterwards Black Tiger removed his mask to reveal Tatsuhito Takaiwa, the first native under the Black Tiger mask. [12] On August 15, 2009, at G1 Climax 2009 Tour Tiger Mask lost the IWGP Junior Heavyweight title to Místico. He regained the title on November 8, 2009, at NJPW's Destruction '09 show when he defeated Místico. [13] On January 4, 2010, at Wrestle Kingdom IV in Tokyo Dome Tiger Mask lost the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship to Naomichi Marufuji. [14] After losing a rematch to Marufuji on May 8, 2010, Tiger Mask began showing signs of a heel turn as he attacked the champion after the match. [15] Tiger then entered the 2010 Best of the Super Juniors tournament in an attempt to win his third BOSJ and on May 30 continued his heelish behaviour by refusing to shake hands with La Sombra after losing his opening match to him. [16] The following day it was announced that Tiger had suffered a neck injury and would be sidelined for two months, forcing him to forfeit the rest of his matches in the Best of the Super Juniors tournament. [17]

He made his return on August 14, 2010, in a six-man tag team match, where he, Koji Kanemoto and Ryusuke Taguchi wrestled Pro Wrestling Noah representatives Atsushi Aoki, Ricky Marvin and Taiji Ishimori to a fifteen-minute time limit draw. [18] On August 22 Tiger and Kanemoto defeated Marvin and Ishimori at a Pro Wrestling Noah event to win the promotion's GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship. [19] They would lose the title to Atsushi Aoki and Naomichi Marufuji on December 24, 2010. [20] On January 23, 2011, Tiger Mask put his mask on the line in a Mask vs. Hair match at Fantastica Mania 2011 , a New Japan and Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre co–promoted event in Tokyo, and defeated Tomohiro Ishii to win his third Lucha de Apuesta. After the match Ishii attacked and unmasked Tiger Mask. [21] [22] On February 20 at The New Beginning, Tiger Mask defeated Ishii, who had begun wearing a Black Tiger mask, in a Mask vs. Mask match. [23] On June 16, 2012, at Dominion 6.16, Tiger Mask won his first IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship, when he and Jushin Thunder Liger defeated Taichi and Taka Michinoku for the vacant title. [24] On July 22, the team lost the title to Forever Hooligans (Alex Koslov and Rocky Romero). [25] On September 23, 2015, at Destruction in Okayama, Tiger Mask defeated Steve Anthony to win the NWA World Junior Heavyweight Championship for the second time. [26] He lost the title back to Anthony on March 19, 2016. [27]

Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (2007)

Tiger Mask made several appearances for the American-based wrestling company Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) through the working relationship between NJPW and TNA. He appeared on TNA Sacrifice 2007 in a four-way bout featuring Alex Shelley, Jerry Lynn, and Senshi. [28] He also made a couple of appearances on TNA Impact! , TNA's weekly show.

Other media

Outside of wrestling, Yamazaki appeared on the second SASUKE competition in 1998 although he failed to make it past the first obstacle of the First Stage.

Personal life

On July 22, 2006, Yamazaki married a then 32-year-old woman whose given name is unknown, though her former surname was Nishimura.

Championships and accomplishments

Luchas de Apuestas record

Winner (wager)Loser (wager)LocationEventDateNotes
Tiger Mask IV (IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship) Black Tiger (IV) (mask)Tokyo, JapanResolution '09April 5, 2009 [11]
Tiger Mask (mask) Black Tiger (V) (mask) Osaka, Japan Dominion 6.20 June 20, 2009 [12]
Tiger Mask (mask) Tomohiro Ishii (hair)Tokyo, Japan Fantastica Mania January 23, 2011 [21] [22]
Tiger Mask (mask) Black Tiger (VI) (mask)Sendai, Japan The New Beginning February 20, 2011 [23]

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Preceded by
Masahito Kakihara
Best of the Super Juniors winner
2004 & 2005
Succeeded by
Minoru